Though they aren’t usually as big a concern for Long Island homeowners as termites, carpenter ants actually cause similar damage! Protecting your home from carpenter ants this spring starts with some basic carpenter ant facts.
What Do Carpenter Ants Look Like?
Carpenter ants are a larger species of ant, compared to others like the little black ants we see so often on Long Island. Worker carpenter ants grow from anywhere to 5/8-1/2 inches in length; queens can grow as large as 1 inch in length…pretty big for an ant!
Carpenter ants are usually black, red, or a combination of the two colors, and are known for their strong mandibles, which aid them in creating tunnels and nesting areas (more on those later). Because their jaws are so powerful, carpenter ant bites can be painful; when carpenter ants bite, they inject formic acid into the bite wound, which causes a temporary burning sensation.
So...how many times can an ant lift its own weight? For carpenter ants…a lot! These strong-bodied ants can lift up to seven times their own weight with their teeth.
Where Do Carpenter Ants Come From?
Sometimes, swarms of winged carpenter reproductives will pop up seemingly out of nowhere inside Long Island homes. This is usually a tell-tale sign that a colony is nested somewhere within the structure of the home.
In general, carpenter ants nest in dry or moist wood, though they’re especially fond of moist wood because their developing eggs have specific moisture needs. Most often, their nests are likely to be found in wood that’s been dampened; damp areas around sinks, bathtubs, dishwashers, and roof leaks are common nesting areas.
What are the Signs of Carpenter Ants?
Outside, carpenter ant nests can be found in rotting tree stumps, trees that are either fallen or still standing, or in firewood piles.
Here are a few surefire signs you may be dealing with carpenter ants:
- Piles of sawdust-like shavings
- Rustling noises inside walls
- Winged ants emerging from ceilings, walls, or crevices
- Shed wings left behind near window sills, baseboards, or vents
Carpenter Ants vs. Termites
We mentioned earlier that carpenter ants cause similar damage as termites; it’s a common misconception in the pest control world that carpenter ants eat wood in the same manner as termites. In actuality, carpenter ants create tunnels and nesting areas within the wood and don’t actually chomp on the wood; carpenter ants much prefer a diet of other insects, honeydew, pet food, meat, syrup, and honey.
Like termites, though, carpenter ants are dangerous to the structural integrity of homes and buildings and can cause damages that are costly to repair.
Prevent Carpenter Ant Invasions
As with other common Long Island pests, the best way to prevent carpenter ant damage is a year-round pest control service.
Here are a few more ways to protect your home from black carpenter ants:
- Inspect the exterior of your home for cracks and crevices; seal as needed
- Caulk any gaps around windows and doors
- Ensure your gutters are working properly, directing water away from your home
- Fix any leaky pipes or fixtures
- Store outdoor trash cans (with lids sealed) and woodpiles away from your house
- Reduce humidity levels in your home with dehumidifiers
- Keep food stored in sealed containers or in the fridge
- Maintain a clean interior; clean up spills and crumbs as they fall, and keep your sink free of dirty dishes
How to Get Rid of Carpenter Ants
Getting rid of carpenter ants is complex; there can be multiple satellite nests and thousands of workers. If you’re dealing with a carpenter ant problem, call Suburban Exterminating to eliminate your infestation. We understand the damage these ants can cause to your home’s structure and will act quickly to eradicate the issue. To schedule a free inspection, call or text (631/516) 864-6900.